Patricia Gibney

The Missing Ones

"The location, the characters, the sense of something dark lurking at the heart of a community – it all rang true for me."


A woman's body is discovered in a cathedral in the Irish midland town of Ragmullin. Hours later, a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It's clear the pair are connected, but how?

Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation into both deaths. The trail leads her to St Angela's, a former children's home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.

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This debut novel from Irish author Patricia Gibney introduces us to Garda Detective Lottie Parker. Still grieving the death of her husband, Lottie is struggling to cope with her demanding job while also being a mother to her three teenage children. It's an impressive start to a promising new series. With her partner Boyd, Lottie is tasked with finding out what links the two victims and why they died. The investigation leads Lottie to St Angela's, a former children's home. It's clear early on that Lottie has a personal connection with St Angela's. It's also clear that St Angela's was far from a pleasant experience for the children who lived there. The novel moves between two different time frames: the 1970s and the present day. While it's clear from the outset that the present investigation is linked to the terrible events that took place in St Angela's in the 70's, Gibney does a good job of keeping the reader guessing right until the final pages. Over the last decade, Ireland has been rocked by stories of the abuses carried out in state institutions. The most recent of these was the shocking discovery of a mass grave at a mother and baby home in Tuam. In a country that spent far too long covering up the terrible injustices inflicted in the name of Church and state, 'The Missing Ones' is an angry, heartfelt cry on behalf of the voiceless victims. I grew up in the Irish midlands, in a town not far from Mullingar, Gibney's home town and – clearly – the inspiration for the fictional Ragmullin. For that reason, this felt like a very personal novel. The location, the characters, the sense of something dark lurking at the heart of a community – it all rang true for me. The 'will they, won't they' relationship between Lottie and her partner, Boyd, works really well too. From this reader's perspective, I hope they will in the not too distant future because Boyd really is a lovely character. I look forward to seeing what Patricia Gibney does next.

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